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Thailand started the mass horse vaccination to prevent AHS virus

28 Apr 2020

On Monday, Thailand began vaccinating some 4,000 horses in a bid to control the outbreak of the deadly African Horse Sickness (AHS), a disease that affects only horses and other equine animals.

More than 200 horses in seven provinces have died since the epidemic was first recorded earlier this year, the first time Southeast Asia has seen the highly contagious AHS virus, spread by insects.

Horse owners in the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima have mounted mosquito nets on stables and conduct daily temperature and safety inspections, thus quarantining sick horses.

The government has also prohibited horses, zebras and similar species from import and export.

If the disease can not be controlled by mass vaccination, veterinarians warn, it could wipe out all 11,800 horses in Thailand, where they are kept for visitors and private owners mainly for racing and pleasure riding.

"Without treatment, 10 out of 10 horses will contract the infection ... nine out of 10 sick horses will die from it," said Aree Laikul, a veterinarian from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Kasetsart University who assists with the vaccination campaign.

There were no recorded cases of AHS in humans, and the coronavirus pandemic is not linked to this.

According to information from the World Organisation for Animal Welfare, AHS is common in central tropical regions of Africa, from where it extends annually to Southern Africa and sometimes to North Africa